Sunday, February 8, 2009

First "Home" as a young married couple

In 1969 after graduating for college in August, I entered the Coast Guard. I took my boot camp in Alameda, California. Graduating from boot camp in Oct. was one of the most wonderful days of my life. That could be another story. The Coast Guard boot camp was known as second only to the Marines when it came to difficulty. The USCG sent me to a light house on the NE end of Lake Ontario. . The light house was known as Tibbetts Point and marked where the St. Lawrence River begins. I lived in a small, but very old village called Cape Vincent in the state of NY. Diane and I were married the following spring and I was able to rent an apartment for us to live in just prior to the wedding.
The picture above is of the "tinder box"is the apartment I speak of. My Mom was scared to death that she would lose us to a billow of smoke. The whole building was wood and it had two gas space heaters mounted on the wall. Even more reason to be concerned was the fact we lived on the top floor. There was an exit out the back enclosed stairway and one down the stairs of the porches.
We were tickled with it. the porch was great! Sitting out there was so nice in the summer. We would grill or just sit and read. We could see the main street from there. Inside, it was long and somewhat narrow. There were two bedrooms. One we slept in one of course and I later used the other as a darkroom. There was a kitchen and comfortable dining/living room area. It had wood floors and came furnished with some antique furniture. All comfortable for us. Rent; $80 smack - a roons per month.
Our land lord-ettes were two widow sisters that lived next to us. One took us under her wing. She became our "Grandma Molly". She was such a dear woman. She had lost her husband quite a few years ago and lost her only son when he flew his plane off a carrier deck right into the ocean. She continued to write us when we got out of the USCG until we got a letter a few years ago from a friend of hers informing us she had passed away. She lived to be almost 100.
We had a couple who became about our best friends that moved in next door to us, sharing our porch. We played double handed pinococle together many, many night; boys against the girls. Gaylor and I lost to Dinah and Bonnie for months in a row. The beer that Gaylor and I drank may have been a contributing factor to do with our losing streak. Clubs became spades and hearts became diamonds. "What was the bid, anyway?"As couples, we got close: I bought a Vega, they bought a Vega; I got into darkroom photography, so did Gaylor; We camped together; played on same softball and basketball teams.
Being far away from home and just starting out in our life together, having a comfortable love nest to start out in and local friends were a real blessings. Actually, for me to come home to my wife every day was a real blessing when you consider so many young men were fighting for their lives in Vietnam. I was protecting ya'll from Canada. I did a good job too, didn't I. We never got attacked once!


  1. Gary, are your in-laws William Crotteau and Mernia Schake? We could be 7th Cousins. See for my Rice Lake trip last year.

  2. Well, your first home looks a lot nicer than Anna and my first home together. Our one bedroom, 600 square foot, basement apartment did not have any of the amenities you described. We had so little space we have to sleep with bikes in the bedroom!